How to delete your Yahoo account

Enough is enough already.

David bisson
David Bisson

How to delete your Yahoo account

Let’s start at the beginning.

In August 2016, we learned that a hacker known as Peace was offering for sale 200 million Yahoo user accounts on the dark web.

More than a month later, the American tech company gave us some more awful news: a “state-sponsored actor” had hacked its computer system back in 2014 and compromised at least 500 million users’ accounts.

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Some users of Yahoo’s free web-mail subsequently sued the company as reports emerged that the breach could have affected computer users who didn’t even own a Yahoo account.

That was enough fishy business for BT and a number of other companies to begin investigating Yahoo. One security firm in particular said it had found evidence that hackers, not a state-sponsored actor, probably stole the account information of the 500 million users.

Had Yahoo been wrong in its attribution? Or had it been trying to save face?

Either way, things went downhill from there.

SpyingJust a week later, news broke about how Yahoo had complied with a secret U.S. government directive to scan all of its users’ incoming emails.

The way in which the program was set up could have potentially allowed a hacker to read every single email sent over Yahoo’s network, a fatal error which some EU policymakers hope the European Commission will invoke as a means to challenge the Privacy Shield data-sharing agreement.

In the wake of the email spying programs, Verizon, which itself hasn’t done the best job protecting users’ privacy, said it could decide to reduce its offer to buy Yahoo for $5 billion if it doesn’t decide to walk away from the deal entirely.

Yahoo also inadvertently (or not) pushed back against users who decided to deactivate their Yahoo email accounts by disabling its auto-forwarding feature.

To be fair, it could have done so for legitimate reasons, such as preventing hackers from auto-forwarding messages sent to users’ compromised accounts. But it still hasn’t gone over too well, with some users accusing the company of purposefully making that decision to prevent them from jumping ship.

What a cynical move, if that’s true.

But at this point, it doesn’t even matter. Users everywhere have seen enough to lose all of their trust in Yahoo. If you’re a Yahoo user, it’s time to move on and delete your account – even if that means setting up a new email account now and changing over all of your web subscriptions gradually.

Here’s some things to think about beforehand.

Save your Contacts and Mail before you migrate

No user wants to start over fresh and not have any of their contacts or messages saved. That’s why it’s important they take some time to make sure they can access these pieces of information from their new email account.

Fortunately, this is all pretty easy to do.

Yahoo has a feature that allows you to export your contact list to an importable file.

Screen shot 2016 10 14 at 4.53.20 pm

Also, while the site doesn’t come with a feature that allows you to export your mail, you can save all of your messages to your computer’s hard drive if you have Outlook or Thunderbird retrieve them first. Alternatively, you can import them to your new mail service’s depending to which mail provider you’re planning to switch. (Google’s Gmail comes with this feature, for instance.)

Delete your Yahoo-owned accounts

As a tech company, Yahoo owns a number of other smaller companies with which you might have accounts. It’s important that you go through and separately delete all of those accounts, too. For example, here’s how you can delete your accounts on Flickr and Tumblr, both of which are owned by Yahoo.

How to delete your Yahoo account

With those matters taken care of, it’s time to deactivate your Yahoo account.

  1. Sign into your Yahoo email.

Yahoo account

  1. Enter the URL into the address bar and click Enter.
  1. Reenter your password to be brought to the Yahoo account termination page.

Terminate your Yahoo account

  1. Read over the page. When you’re satisfied with its contents, fill in your password and the CAPTCHA into the appropriate text fields and click the Terminate this Account button.

Yahoo captca

  1. And that’s all it takes.

Yahoo terminated

Yahoo says it will now delete your account in approximately 90 days. For now it has been deactivated (Yahoo says this is to protect against malicious account abuse, but presumably it also gives you the option of changing your mind if your realise you need to regain access to your Yahoo account for any reason).

Get an account with a service like ProtonMail or another email provider that takes good care of your privacy and security. And enjoy saying goodbye to Yahoo for good.

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Tripwire's "The State of Security" blog.

7 comments on “How to delete your Yahoo account”

  1. Simon

    "Alternatively, you can import them to your new mail service's depending to which mail provider you're planning to switch. (Google's Gmail comes with this feature, for instance.)"

    I wasn't aware of this which is good to know. However the following worked for me some time ago;

    1. Start by setting up both accounts in Thunderbird, inc. Yahoo and it's successor (ie: Gmail, Hotmail, etc…)
    2. Manually replicate your folder structure in your new mail account
    3. Go into a folder within your Yahoo account, CTRL + A and CTRL + X
    4. Go into the replicated folder in your successor account and CTRL + V
    NB: Depending on the volume of emails and speed of your link, this might take a long time… so be patient
    5. Rinse and repeat for all other folders/sub-folders, inc. Sent and Draft until all mail has moved across
    6. As mentioned earlier, export your contacts as a vCard file. IIRC Gmail happily imports this format with little to no fuss
    7. Confirm that all mail/contacts has migrated over and finally nuke your account.

    Happy migrating.

  2. Niall Martin

    I've been suspicious of yahoo for quite some time: two many of my contacts on yahoo (and btinternet which I think used yahoo systems) have had their accounts hacked and used for "I'm stuck with no money in Athens" messages.

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to Niall Martin

      Yes, in my unscientific experience, it has often been Yahoo accounts that have been plagued with these "Stuck in a foreign country" scams and other spam activity.

      Whether that is because people who have Yahoo accounts may have created them a long time ago (perhaps using weaker passwords in such innocent times), something to do with the demographic of typical users, or whether this is because of underlying security failings by Yahoo I simply don't know.

      As a general principle though I feel much happier using services that charge me money to use them. At least then I know they have a vested interest in keeping me (their customer happy) rather than advertisers.

  3. Jay

    I wanted to do exactly what this article says, but ultimately decided not to close it, at least for now. David, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that Yahoo allows usernames to be re-used after accounts are deleted. I.e., If the hacker wants to steal my identity, he could simply sign up for Yahoo as [email protected] and call around trying to get password resets on my amazon, or my bank, or anywhere that the customer service is too clueless to realize that I changed my address to Protonmail specifically to avoid this.

    But … it's not an issue if I am careful enough to delete the Yahoo email address off of Amazon and Mybank? Unfortunately it seems old email addresses die hard. I'm still getting emails from my power company, my work benefits, Apple, etc. at my Yahoo account even though when Iog in, the Yahoo address doesn't show anywhere that's available for me to look. They've got that old Yahoo address entered in there somewhere, and the $8 an hour customer service rep for the bank doesn't have a clue how to fix it, all they're going to do is yet again tell you how to log into their website and change your email address.

    So I decided not to delete the old Yahoo address, unless Yahoo is going to disallow recycling of user names. Better to retain control over the old user name than play whack-a-mole with dozens of security-clueless companies plus whoever else they want to sell your info to. "Hello [email protected], you're pre-approved for a credit card! Follow this link to log in and sign up! For security purposes, what is your mother's maiden name, and the last four of your social?"

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to Jay

      Good point.

      More details of Yahoo's idea to recycle email accounts (and why it's crazy ape bonkers) here:

  4. Mark

    This would be great, if Yahoo actually followed through with requests to have accounts deleted. I realize they give themselves 90 days to delete accounts but their message does state that access is immediately restricted as the account is deactivated. I, however, can still access my account and can use it without any mention that it is going to go away in 90 days. I've send their support questions about this, posted in their community, and tried reaching out via Twitter. No response. Maybe the account will really go away in 90 days but the appearance that they've simply ignored the request is concerning.

  5. Maryanne

    My yahoo account was hacked and someone changed my password and security answers, and I'm not able to get in my account, my phone number on file is from old cell number. Can any one help thanks.

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